Latin American Vampires
Independent of the Slavic vampire traditions, the countries of what are now Latin America have developed their own distinctive vampire legends. The Aztec and Mayan civilizations, who ruled much of what is now Central America and Mexico, have a history of bloodthirsty deities that predate the first Spanish explorers, and their influence is still felt in modern lore, particularly in rural areas.
In Mayan lore, the Camazotz is a monstrous mix of a human male body with the head of a bat that may have developed its origins from the vampire bats of South America. The Camazotz personifies death and sacrifice, and people greatly fear the caves that are thought to be his lair.
The deities of the cihuateteo are thought to be the souls of women who die in childbirth, which gives them the status of warriors. Although the spirit of the cihuateteo gives strength to warriors in battle, their physical remains wander the earth to attack children and spread disease and madness.
Food offerings are often left at crossroads where the creatures are thought to gather and from where they launch their nighttime assaults on the living. Crossroads are commonplace in vampire legend, also serving as places where vampires can be destroyed.
The chupacabra, which is Spanish for “goat sucker,” is one of the most recent vampirish creatures to enter modern legend. Since the 1990s, bloody attacks on livestock in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Texas, and as far north as Maine have been attributed to the elusive chupacabra. The few alleged chupacabras killed by wary ranchers have turned out to be ill, emaciated, and mange-ridden coyotes.
In most of Latin America, the term bruja, or witch, is common and often used to describe the ferocious tlahuelpuchi, a bloodsucking witch who can transform into a variety of animals in order to roam about freely. These creatures are particularly mean-spirited, sucking the blood and life from innocent infants, while also possessing hypnotic powers that can cause adults to commit suicide.
Garlic, onions, and metal can be placed in or around a baby's crib for protection from this fiendish vampire witch, but unexplained infant deaths to this day are still often attributed to the tlahuelpuchi, particularly in remote areas of Mexico. The child's unfortunate parents suffer scorn and blame for a lack of vigilant protection.